Prominent attorney’s memory lives on in Las Vegas

Coulthard Drive near Rainbow and Charleston boulevards is named after a man who felt more at home on the dirt roads of rural Iowa.

George William “Bill” Coulthard was assigned to Las Vegas as the city’s first resident FBI agent from 1939 to 1945. As a lawyer, Coulthard had a private practice from 1946 to 1972. He was a Nevada assemblyman from 1951-54 and president of the Nevada State Bar Association.

Those accomplishments are nice, but they did not garner Coulthard a street name.

Coulthard was a friend and associate of land developer Ernest Becker III of Becker Enterprises. Becker bought the original 250 acres that is Charleston Heights in historic West Las Vegas.

Becker developed more than 60 subdivisions, often naming streets after his pals.

“He was delighted, of course,” said his wife, Diane Coulthard, on her late husband’s reaction to the street. “We all drove up there and looked at it together.”

Diane Coulthard also pointed out that nearby Hussey Drive was named for Coulthard’s legal secretary, Elsie Hussey.

Coulthard was killed July 25, 1972, in a car bomb on the third floor of the parking garage at the former Bank of Nevada building, 300 S. Third St. Coulthard’s law office was inside the building. The investigation into the bombing is ongoing.

“When he was killed, it was a shock to a pretty important segment of Las Vegas,” Diane Coulthard said. “It shook the town pretty hard.”

Coulthard was born May 21, 1916. His first wife, Lena Silvagni, died in 1955. He married Diane, a native Las Vegan, in 1957. They had a daughter, Leslie, and two sons, William and James.

The Coulthards’ first house was at 401 S. Sixth St. in the downtown area. With one child and another on the way, Coulthard started looking for a bigger place to raise a family and made a purchase before consulting with anyone, even his wife. The family finds humor in it more than ever.

“Dad came home one day and said, ‘Well, we bought a new house,’ ” his son, William Coulthard, said.

The family moved into the Rancho Circle neighborhood near Rancho and Alta drives. Their former home would be transformed into Andre’s, a French restaurant frequented by local politicians and celebrities before closing in 2008.

Diane Coulthard owned the house in Rancho Circle for nearly 40 years and resides in Summerlin. Diane and her son both had the same favorite memories of when Coulthard was alive.

Every August until Coulthard’s death, the family would spend the month in the same beach house in Del Mar, Calif., accompanied by several families, most of them colleagues or neighbors. The men would work Monday through Thursday in Las Vegas and drive to Del Mar for the weekends.

Coulthard was happiest, his family said, when back in his hometown of Modale, Iowa, farming and hunting ducks and pheasants.

The Coulthard family owns several farms in Iowa, and the sons still hunt every year on the same ground where their father first taught them.

Contact View education reporter Jeff Mosier at or 224-5524.

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